Ruppersberger aims barb at Mintz

August 15, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

The battle between Democrats Melvin G. Mintz and Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III for Eastside endorsements in the Baltimore County executive race has turned nasty.

Mr. Mintz ultimately got the nod from the 15th District Democratic Club in Essex last week, but not before Mr. Ruppersberger leveled a charge of treachery against his County Council colleague.

The endorsement was Mr. Mintz's first from one of the old-line pTC Eastside Democratic clubs, whose support is considered critical because no eastern county candidate is running for executive.

Mr. Mintz, a two-term councilman from Pikesville, is trying to win enough votes outside his own district to triumph in his Sept. 13 primary battle against Mr. Ruppersberger, whose district covers the northern and northwestern areas, and Halethorpe's John C. Coolahan. So far, Mr. Ruppersberger is running way ahead in endorsements, even on the Eastside.

The latest squabble involves a council redistricting vote three years ago that moved central Essex into a new district dominated by Dundalk.

Dundalk's old 7th District had to be expanded because it had lost population during the 1980s. But the path the council chose -- across Back River into Essex instead of north into Rosedale -- aroused anger in Essex.

To win support from Essex's 15th District Club, Mr. Mintz reminded it that he was the only council member besides Essex's own Vincent Gardina to vote against the plan.

But Mr. Ruppersberger charged that during the redistricting tussle, Mr. Mintz privately offered to sell out Essex in return for a plan that would have grabbed friendly territory for Mr. Mintz's own 2nd District.

Mr. Ruppersberger said that Mr. Mintz's main goal was to wrest Owings Mills, where many of his own constituents have moved, from Mr. Ruppersberger's neighboring 3rd District. To get what he wanted, Mr. Ruppersberger charged, Mr. Mintz offered to vote for a plan that sacrificed Essex to Dundalk, while the Cockeysville councilman said he worked behind the scenes to preserve Essex's political integrity.

Mr. Mintz denied the charge, but Councilman William A. Howard IV, the Fullerton Republican who supported the merger, backed Mr. Ruppersberger's account.

Publicly, Mr. Mintz favored a plan that would have kept Essex intact and given him Owings Mills.

Mr. Ruppersberger said he had no wish to split Essex but was more intent on protecting his own district by keeping Owings Mills intact.

Towson Republican Douglas B. Riley, who was council chairman then, said Mr. Ruppersberger promised to vote for any plan that drew a four-vote majority to prevent a stalemate and a long court battle.

Catonsville Republican Berchie Lee Manley eventually agreed to be the fourth vote for the plan that merged Dundalk with Essex, and the final tally was 5-2.

Mr. Mintz denied the allegations, saying that Mr. Ruppersberger "made that up."

George Bowler, president of the 15th District club, said Mr. Mintz's vote on redistricting persuaded most of the 45 members to vote to endorse him.

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